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David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog

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After being waylaid by work on Haiti, I am back to toiling on chapter 8. One section surveys the commercialization of microfinance and the financing of microfinance. Unlike most of the book, it is rich in figures and tables. Here I share them with you. I'd appreciate suggestions of what to change, drop, or add. What is confusing? Two disclaimers: My purpose here is to document trends without assuming that up is always good or always bad. And I should be able to add another year of data soon.

For me, the last display is most interesting.

Number of borrowers, 20 largest microfinance institutions of 2007

Number of borrowers, 20 largest microfinance institutions of 2007

Source: Mix Market.

Number of savers, 20 largest microfinance institutions of 2007

Number of savers, 20 largest microfinance institutions of 2007

Source: Mix Market.

Total amount of loans outstanding, SYM50 microfinance institutions, 2006--09 (million $)

Total loans outstanding, SYM50 microfinance institutions, 2006-09

Source: Syminvest. SYM50 is a group of 50 major investible microfinance institutions.

Number of microfinance investment vehicles, 2000--08

Number of microfinance investment vehicles, 2000-08

Source: CGAP.

Top 10 microfinance investment vehicles, end of 2008

Top 10 microfinance investment vehicles, end of 2008

Source: Reille and Glisovic-Mezieres (2009), CGAP.

Performance of Symbiotics Microfinance Index in dollar terms (SMX USD), 2004--09

Performance of Symbiotics Microfinance Index in dollar terms, 2004-09

Source: Syminvest. The SMX indexes the performance of a handful of microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs).

Foreign financing for microfinance by destination, 2008

Foreign financing for microfinance by destination, 2008

Source: CGAP. First two columns are provisional.

Foreign financing for microfinance by source type, 2008

Foreign financing for microfinance by source type, 2008

Source: Jasmina Glisovic-Mezieres, CGAP. See also.

The last one interests me because it shows something that had not been clear to me. Even today, the vast majority of the foreign primary investment going into microfinance---a term that excludes purchases of shares of the publicly traded BRI (Indonesia), Equity Bank (Kenya), and Compartamos (Mexico) on secondary stock exchanges---comes from people with two bottom lines, social and financial. The exceptions, those motivated by profit alone, are contained in the "private investors" row at the bottom of the table, where the numbers are small. Almost all the money still comes from people who care about the question of impact. This means that for all the talk of CDOs and IPOs and MIVs, for all the remarkable progress towards commercialization since the mid-1990s, microfinance is not yet predominantly commercial. The prevalence of social mission also means, happily, that my book is still relevant.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.